Rare Rides: The 2020 Mitsuoka Rock Star, Believe in Your Dreams

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 2020 mitsuoka rock star believe in your dreams

Today’s obscure Rare Ride is from perhaps the most courageous car company in existence today: Mitsuoka. This two-seater combines the zesty performance of a modern Japanese roadster with Sixties American Corvette styling.

Hazard a guess what it is underneath?

A small, independent car firm created in 1996, Mitsuoka has always gone in its own styling direction. Most often the company put a new body on an existing Japanese car. They’ve made a formal Rolls-Royce-looking sedan based on a Corolla and turned a RAV4 turned into a vintage American SUV. Here in Mitsuoka’s own words is the backstory of the Rock Star:

“Even when people looked down on me, I believed in my dreams. But truth is I was scared. I pretended to be alright. Truth is I was eager for love, I wanted you to see. In a town that shines under the rain, Your eyes lead me. You told me ‘Just fly freely’. I can fly! Now I can fly. I can do it! Now I am free.”

Interpret that paragraph as you will as we move on to facts. The Rock Star was a very limited production model from Mitsuoka, which saw a C2 Corvette-themed body applied to a Mazda MX-5 Miata. Swoops, gills, and chrome appeared out of thin air. A long front end held integrated headlamps, as flip-up lamps were no longer compliant with safety regulation. At the back, the rear end was recognizable to anyone who’s seen a vintage Corvette with its signature circular brake lamps. Five-spoke chrome wheels set off the look and give the ride suitable Boomer energy.

There were no changes made to the Miata in terms of mechanicals: The Rock Star had the same 1.5-liter four-cylinder good for 132 horsepower as found in all Japanese market Miatas. Buyers could opt for manual or automatic transmissions. Changes inside were much more limited than the exterior and included a Mitsuoka-designed horn pad, and color-matched Mitsuoka stitching in the seats.

Mitsuoka revealed its new Rock Star in the fall of 2018, with a production cap of 50 examples. A shocking 30 paint colors were on offer – a number seemingly out of reach for larger manufacturers these days. Unsurprisingly, all examples were snapped up within four months, before the Rock Star ever entered production. The ask new was $41,700.

Fast forward a couple of years and today’s Rock Star is available with 225 kilometers on the clock, in Los Angeles blue. Rarity has already added a premium onto the roadster, and the current ask is $69,700.

[Images: Mitsuoka]

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  • Thegamper Thegamper on Apr 28, 2021

    Interesting find. I appreciate that it is unique and can appreciate its appeal in that respect, but sort of lost me at 1.5L engine. $69K buys a lot of interesting cars that are probably a bit more fun.

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Apr 28, 2021

      I think over there these probably had a very particular "I like American things" customer for which a high price was not an issue. Like the 2003 Thunderbird or an SSR here.

  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Apr 28, 2021

    While you're at the Mitsuoka dealer, check out the "Buddy," an SUV that looks like a shrunken Cadillac SRX with a 1980s Suburban front, apparently on a Toyota RAV4 chassis.

  • 28-Cars-Later "Honda and Acura haven’t yet released an EV in the United States"Ok..."The 2024 ZDX rides on GM’s Ultium Platform and will feature Google built-in services. "Waht?
  • Theflyersfan I was just at the Mazda dealer getting one of the free scheduled maintenances taken care of and saw a couple of these on the lot (inventory...I know!!! No Mazda3s or MX-5s, but had some CX-5s and CX-50s). They are even nicer in person - the paint especially stands out. Plus the terracotta interior treatment isn't something done by Honda, Toyota, or Nissan so you can get something different. The slight price hike is worth it and it's worth it just to have something that isn't white, black, or a million shades of gray. Or get the Soul Red. You can never go wrong with that color. I just with the terracotta interior was offered with that.
  • VoGhost This new SLX looks to be quite a trooper.
  • Wolfwagen I would rather have an annual inspection that may catch something early or at least the driver can be informed of an impending issue. Government vs private is another issue and unscrupulous mechanics is another.On a slightly different topic is the inspection of salvage or rebuilt cars. In NYS it is strictly to ensure that stolen parts were not used to rebuild the vehicle. I would rather see an inspection to ensure that the vehicle has been properly put back together.
  • PeterPuck For years, Ford has simply reworked existing designs originating from Europe and Japanese manufacturers, not being capable of designing a decent car in the USA.What’s the last clean sheet design from the USA? The 1986 Taurus?And they still can’t manage to get things right.why is this? Are they putting all of the competent engineers and designers on the F150? Is woke diversification affecting them, as some rumours suggest? Are they rewarding incompetence?